Meet the Hutterites: Was bringing King Colony to the masses a mistake?

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

Meet the Hutterites is supposed to be a glimpse into the world of the Hutterites, but not everyone seems to appreciate the attempt to make the views of this religion more public.

Meet the Hutterites came to the National Geographic Channel promising an insider’s view to the colony’s way of life, which seemed like an interesting chance for viewers to learn more about the religion and “meet” some of the members of the faith. But, not everyone is seeing things eye-to-eye regarding the “reality” presented in the early episodes.

Some Huliq readers, claiming to be Hutterites themselves, commented on why King Colony may have agreed to do the show:

  • Anonymous: “I am a Hutterite living on a colony in Manitoba...The reason they are doing this? It could be more or less because they want to get the message and perspective out of who and what Hutterites really are. No; don’t color us all with the same brush, but personally, for me, I enjoy showing and telling the outside world who and what I am. There is nothing freakish about our trends or rituals; everything we have and do is sensible, even if outsiders would not necessarily agree with it. I sometimes feel like outsiders get the wrong impression about us, maybe because of a bad influence one or more of my fellow members might have somewhere...But I still like to do my part in showing who we really are.”
  • Anonymous: “Are they doing it for the sake of becoming Hollywood Television stars? Yes, I have an issue with that; exploiting my heritage for fame and fortune, even by a member of my own kind, would in my opinion by doing something for the wrong reason. Having said that; it has been done before. There are a few documentary productions that have been made where outsiders are invited to come into the community for a week or two. As far as I'm concerned, I think it answers a few questions, and clears a few opinions outsiders have about us.”

However, following the airing of another episode, just a few days later, one of the anonymous commenters posted the following:

“I take back my words: I was on the impression that these folks might be doing it for a better reason than they obviously are...The show is an embarrassment to Hutterites and the Hutterite lifestyle. Shame on King Colony and National Geographics. Total disgrace.”

And, other readers, also calling themselves Hutterites, were angered by the show, as well:

  • Herb: “These people are a disaster!!! I call them HINO's, Hutterites In Name Only!! Shame, shame, double shame!!! Making a mockery of themselves and the lives they are supposed to be living!! They have no class, no character, pitiful!!! As for Natgeotv, they are classless, characterless clowns who are purposefully and knowingly perpetrating a mockery and a lie to further there sick and perverse agenda. They did limited research on their subject because they are not interested in the truth. As a true Hutterite it angers me!! God have mercy on them.”
  • Anonymous: I am a Hutterite living on a colony in Manitoba...What a disgrace, a shameful disgrace. This show is entertainment, but that is it. These folks have absolutely no resemblance to Hutterites other than having a similar dress-code. Morals, ethics, lifestyle...theyre gone. Just gone. No wonder they're not accepted by one of the 3 Hutterian Churches. These aren't Hutterites; simply entertainment. When is the next show coming out? I can't wait.”

Does King Colony Regret Meet the Hutterites?

Following some of the not-so-glowing comments, this anonymous message appeared:

“This community temporarily lost sight of who they are and allowed themselves to be swayed by a secular organization who were obviously on their own agenda, with seemingly no thought that an entire people are hurt by this. King Ranch leadership now deeply regrets their actions, and know that the money they got was not worth what they're experiencing now. I'm praying some good will come of this, but I can't imagine what it might be.”

Although this anonymous commenter spoke with authority about King Colony, it is not confirmed that, indeed, this individual was speaking for the colony or those involved with the show. However, it does raise the question, did the Hutterites of King Colony understand what they were opening themselves—and other Hutterites—up to when they signed on to do this National Geographic reality television show?

One reader may have summed up the situation perfectly:

“Wrong title, it should be ‘Exploit the Hutterites.’”

Will viewers agree? And will they keep coming back to Meet the Hutterites?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Ex-Hutterite gives personal testimony about colony life

Meet the Hutterites airs on Tuesdays on the National Geographic Channel at 10 p.m E/P.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Comments

Submitted by Johnny Hoffman (not verified) on
Learning about Hutterite way of life was very interesting. A culture within a culture. I never knew Hutterites existed until the National geographic series aired their story. Now, after getting to know the people from the King Colony, I find out won't be a second season. Seems the upper echelons of church ministers, frowned upon the King Colony, and their decision to make the series. I am sure the King Colony regrets any wrong doing on their part. I applaud any society that lasts almost 500 years. Having said that, I will add that we live in a different world today. Melding into the "english" society is a natural occurrence, albeit a bane to Hutterite elders. The episode where the women were trying on make-up was very enlightening. It was a blessing to see how happy these women were. I sensed a wry smile on God's face. We all live in God's grace. In our world today, things change in a heartbeat. So I hope the elders will prey for peace of mind in their individual lives, and not harshly judge members of their own who are bending with the winds of today's society. God bless you all. Jh

Submitted by Vanessa S. (not verified) on
I, personally, love the show. It depicts exactly what quite a few of us are going through. I live in the secular world and am not Hutterite, but it seems that there is angst among most younger people over who they are, where they are going and how they fit into this world. I like that this colony bands together to get the job done, no matter what that job may be. And I like the fact that the elders are at least willing to listen to the younger people and, therefore, be able to advise them wisely. Not everyone is completely satisfied all of the time, and to look beyond where you are should be ok. I get that they understand that. And I also understand that the youngsters will eventually settle down and realize that the colony way of life is their way and they will be content. The only objection that I have is about education. All Hutterite children should be well educated. Perhaps they should look into bringing teachers to the colony to ensure that they are well rounded. Good job National Geographic and shame on anyone that is ashamed of this program!

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